Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

1 January 2017

Explanation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? In 1958 a well-known psychologist, Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), composed a motivational theory called “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. This theory suggests that when a human beings needs are met one will function most effectively. Maslow also believed that needs have to stay unsatisfied to motivate ones behaviour. In the hierarchy there are five levels. These levels are survival, safety, social, esteem and self actualisation. These five levels are presented in a pyramid (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, 2001).

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Physiological needs are at the lower four levels of the pyramid and one psychological need right at the top. The needs in the lower levels need to be met first before the higher levels can be satisfied. Today Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still valid in understanding human motivation, management training and personal development (Puckett, 2011). Maslow’s hierarchy illustrates how ones inner needs motivate one to communicate (Steinberg, 2007: 22). Maslow’s hierarchy is only a theory and might not apply to everybody. The circumstances of an individual will determine their needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is merely a basic guideline. 2. 1. Survival According to Maslow the basic of all needs is survival. This need includes the need for air, water, food, clothes, shelter, sleep and the reproduction of the species. These needs are essential for the existence of human beings; however they are in today’s world often taken for granted as they are usually provided for (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 2008). Survival is a physiological need and is at the bottom of the pyramid. An example of the need for survival would be that a 9 year old child receives food every day, especially breakfast.

This will help him to cope through his day and it will enable him to concentrate in the classroom. Research has proven that children who do not eat breakfast find it difficult to concentrate, stay awake and keep their emotions under control. The focus of the child will remain on the hunger and its effects if the child is not fed (Perks, 1999). 2. 2. Safety Safety or also referred to as security is the next level on the hierarchy. According to Maslow, if a person does not feel safe or if one feels threatened then the needs further up in the pyramid cannot receive attention until that need has been met.

When one refers to the need of safety one refers to issues such as personal safety, job stability, financial security and feeling protected against crime (Steinberg, 2007: 22). An example of safety would be with the rising crime rate in South Africa, for an individual to feel safe one will have walls erected around ones property, have alarm systems installed or maybe even get a watch dog. Others might even go to the extent of having electric fencing installed or having CCTV cameras put around their home. Doing all these things will allow the individual to feel safe and secure in their home and not stress as much about the crime rate. . 3. Social The third level on the hierarchy is social needs. This focuses on the need to develop meaningful relationships with others. The social need is the need to have friends, belong to groups and to be accepted by others. Everyone wants to have the feeling of being appreciated and loved by others; social needs are powerful and can consume someone till the need is met (Steinberg, 2007: 22). Depending on the pressure of the surroundings, it can often overcome survival and safety needs. When there is an absence of social activity, many people have been reported to suffer from loneliness, depression and social anxiety.

An example of social need would be an anorexic girl will ignore the need to eat as well as the security of her health for a feeling of belonging and being accepted (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 2008). The need for belonging to a group and being accepted by her peers out ways her other needs on the pyramid. Another example could be even though somebody does not smoke they will smoke at work so they can be accepted into a group and feel like they belong. 2. 4. Esteem The fourth level on the hierarchy is the need of esteem. After a person has gained the sense of belonging, the feeling of importance comes into play.

One needs to feel successful in what one does as well as receive public recognition for ones efforts. This need is the need to respect oneself and to be respected by others (Steinberg, 2007: 23). Once the first three needs have been fulfilled, one looks at the esteem needs, things such as personal worth, social respect and self achievements. One wants to feel that they are worth something. The need to accomplish something becomes strong at this level. If esteem is not addressed an inferiority complex and or depression will develop (Schop, 2009). An example of esteem would be getting a promotion in your job.

The promotion will impress your colleges, friends and family. It will make them proud and give you a sense of superiority. You will feel successful and others will gain more respect for you. You will have received public recognition. A sense of achievement and pride will be felt. 2. 5. Self-actualisation Finally we have the fifth and final level which is self-actualisation. This is the most difficult level to achieve. Self-actualizing people are self aware, do not care about what other people think of them and have achieved ultimate satisfaction within themselves (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, 2012).

The need for self actualisation is to fulfil the potential as a human being. It is to achieve all that one is capable of being. When one has reached this level one is not concerned about the other needs on the pyramid, those needs have already been met. Self-actualisation includes learning about oneself and the world around us. Reaching this stage means a person has grown and is still growing as an individual and has become more satisfied within (Steinberg, 2007: 23). An example of self-actualisation would be a newly elected president of a country. He has achieved his ultimate goal that he has worked so hard for in his life.

He has achieved his maximum potential in his eyes and feels no one can take him down. The feeling of ultimate accomplishment is there. I use a newly elected president as an example because an old president may no longer feel this way. 3. Conclusion All five levels are important and play an important role in one’s personal development. Without the basic level, man will cease to exist. Each level plays a significant role in everyday communication and response. Once a level is achieved it may no longer seems important, however without it one would not be at the level that one is currently on.

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